Scots Lawyer Paul McBride QC found dead

One of Scotland’s top lawyers, Paul McBride QC has died in his sleep in a hotel in Pakistan.

A statement issued by Jack Irvine on behalf of Mr McBride’s family said: “I understand Paul was found dead in bed this morning. He had been in Pakistan for a few days and I am uncertain when he was to return to Scotland.

“The family have asked that they are not troubled at this distressing time.

“There will be no further statement in the meantime.”

The lawyer – who two men are accused of conspiring to murder, along with Celtic manager Neil Lennon in an explosives plot – was on a business trip at the time of his death.

The 46-year-old was reportedly staying at a hotel in Lahore and travelling with fellow lawyer Aamer Anwar, who believes there was no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

Mr McBride is said to have been meeting with Pakistani Government ministers and military officials on Saturday night but left the engagement early and returned to his hotel.

He was appointed a QC at the age of 35, said to be the youngest QC ever appointed in the UK.

He was called to the Scottish Bar in 1988 and has been involved in many high-profile criminal cases in Scotland.

Mr McBride was one of the most highly regarded lawyers in Scotland and was involved in the Moira Jones murder trial, the Rosepark care home fire fatal accident inquiry, as well as representing Celtic Football Club.

He was a former member of Labour and the Scottish Conservatives but left the latter last June after MSP Ruth Davidson was elected to lead the party north of the border.

Commenting on the tragic news, First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This is sad and shocking news. Paul McBride was an outstanding Advocate, and a very substantial public figure in Scotland.

“Paul’s genius lay not just in applying his first-class mind to the complex procedures of Scots Law, but also his unrivalled ability to explain and promote the laws of Scotland to a wider public.

“His reservoir of talent was great indeed, and I believe he had so much more to contribute to the law, and to the great debate on Scotland’s future. Paul will be sorely missed across Scotland’s legal system, political parties, sport and journalism.

“It is typical of Paul that his last public comment was a newspaper column expressing the belief that the anti-sectarian legislation, of which he was such an eloquent advocate, would herald a historic change for the better in Scotland.

“My thoughts today are with Paul’s partner, parents, family and very many friends. Hopefully the knowledge that he was held in such high regard by so many will be of some comfort at this desperately sad time.”

Scottish Labour Johann Lamont said: “Paul McBride was one of the finest legal minds of his generation. While we didn’t always agree, I always thought of him as a thoroughly decent man. When he entered the political debate he was always challenging and his intellect greatly enriched it. He will be missed.”

The two men currently on trial at the High Court in Glasgow are accused of conspiring to murder Mr McBride, Mr Lennon and former MSP Trish Godman by sending improvised explosive devices to them between March 1 and April 15 last year.

The two accused, Trevor Muirhead, 43, and Neil McKenzie, 42, are also accused of conspiring to murder various people at republican organisation Cairde na hEireann’s premises in Glasgow by sending improvised explosive devices to them.

It is alleged that the pair believed the devices were capable of exploding. They deny all charges against them.